Last week on the Football Federation Australia’s official website, an article was written under the heading: ‘‘Local coaches up to the task for Socceroo role.’’
For those who may not have read the article, the writer states, “It remains a national shame that in the 50 years since we re-joined FIFA Frank Farina remains the only home-grown Australian coach the national team has had.”
I replied to the Speak Your Mind section on the website and would like to take this opportunity to put the record straight.
The first Australian home-grown coach since we re-joined FIFA 50 years ago was Rale Rasic, followed by Les Scheinflug, then Raul Blanco and Eddie Thompson, with Rasic also being the first home-grown coach to have taken the Socceroos to a World Cup.
All four mentioned, gained their coaching stripes here in Australia. None of them had coached overseas before coaching here, with Rasic being the only one never to have coached overseas at all, even though numerous opportunities presented themselves following the Socceroos appearance at Munich 1974.
Les Scheinflug later, did a short stint in Fiji, while Eddie Thompson had spell in Japan, and Raul Blanco was given the roll of technical director to the New Zealand team, who remained the only unbeaten nation at the World Cup in South Africa, 2010.
In the FFA website article, Rale Rasic, Raul Blanco and Eddie Thompson were all quoted as foreign coaches along with Joe Venglos, Frank Arok, Terry Venables and Guus Hiddink, while Les Scheinflug, Australia’s most successful national coach ever, never even rated a mention.
With regards to the present debate on our next national coach, the article declares: “that at the time of writing it appears Ange Postecoglu and Graham Arnold were very much in the mix, but which one of the locals deserve the job” asks the writer?
My question is, how does this employee of the FFA rate Ange — who has since been appointed to the Socceroos coaching job — a local when he was born in Athens, Greece?
Rasic, Blanco, Thompson and obviously Scheinflug are all categorised by the author as foreigners. Scheinflug was here in Australia before the author of the article was born and must be credited with bringing a multitude of quality players through our previously successful development programme. Including most if not all of the 2006 Socceroos.
One exception being Tim Cahill who did not hold Australian citizenship at the time. Since those heady days, what has been achieved and where are the next batch of superstars that FFA have paid so handsomely for?
I have no problem with Ange being a ‘‘local” (whatever that is) or even coaching our Socceroos, but for those who have served our code and country so well being portrayed as foreigners leaves a very grey area in FFA philosophy and historic values on the issue.
It is the ultimate insult to all of them, that claims of this nature can be expounded on the official FFA website, even with disclaimers. If FFA wants to distance itself from this form of trash journalism, then don’t allow it to be put on the website in the first place.
When David Gallop first came on board he committed to reconnect with our history as he did with rugby league. He may now understand the challenge he has given himself with the obvious attitude of some he embraces under his FFA umbrella.
The only national shame apparent in this whole saga being that of a total lack of recognition and respect for those coaches and what they have achieved for Australia with limited resources compared to the facilities and support (forget the money) afforded the present non-performers.
Under the current development program it is hard to find one, let alone a squad of players to take the green and gold shirts from our ageing players. Those same players that have done so much for the Socceroos and Australia, over the past 9-10 years but may now need to move over when the time is right.
It should be left to the new national coach to advise those players who will not be required moving forward, not some TV presenter who’s only coaching experience is drawing circles on a TV monitor explaining what did and should have happened 45 minutes after it has already taken place on the field of play.
Poor Holger Osieck was left holding the can for this player succession failure, while those responsible want to move on to make other autocratic decisions without the qualified knowledge required. Whilst, one must ask, how long can our football survive under this present structure?
Football Federation Australia needs to reinvent itself before we spiral into international oblivion.
The decks need to be cleared of the old baggage, allowing David Gallop to raise a new main sail with a new ‘‘captain’’ and a new ‘‘crew’’.
There is always talk of our players being past their use by date, so it should be with our administrators. Fortunately our players haven’t made as many mistakes as our “suits” have over the years, but the player’s errors haven’t been as easy to disguise as with the turning of a blind eye and the buck passing that go on inside the corridors of power.
Gallop must introduce some corporate governance to this peak body. Checks and crosses must be made. Due diligence must be shown with consultancy on all issues before decisions are made.
Conflicts of interests must be declared and open to the scrutiny and responsibility of all.
The best candidates for positions must be chosen through total board involvement, not by the telephone hook ups of a minority. And, certainly not capricious choices based on scant personal preferences by the self-anointed few.
Our national team is not a coaching camp. Quality players are not created there. Quality players arrive there to be polished and moulded into a competitive unit. Into a team to represent Australia, whenever and wherever that may be. Not only at a world cup tournament every four years.
Those players, part of a development program established at the various state federation and leading club academies, which contain qualified coaching structures designed to develop the skill and fitness levels of those special athletes selected through a talent identification program.
Ray Richards was a member of the 1974 Socceroos, coached by Rale Rasic.